Melbourne and me: one year on
I can hardly believe it – it’s a year today since we leapt into a new life in Melbourne.
So perhaps it’s a good time to reflect and take a breath before the next year begins. So lets take a look at the year in retrospect…
Overall it’s been a year of constant action and, of course, achievement. Just some of the big ticket things included:
- Turning a house into a home. It took a while but now as I turn into our driveway I feel that physical relief of being home.
- Finding our way around – relatively easy in a city based on a grid – but still new is an effort compared to automatic
- Developing key infrastructure such a finding a GP, dentist, physio, accountant, where to shop for each of our favourite brands, finding a trainer
- Developing new routines for getting to and from school, shopping and all the other aspects of running a family
- Supporting hubby in a new and fabulous job (the reason why we’d moved in the first place)
- Getting kids settled in new schools (and learning all the routines and communication procedures of said schools)
- Helping kids develop new friendships and social arrangements
- Finding and developing new friendships myself
- Finding a spiritual home or homes
- Establishing my small business and developing my Melbourne based professional network.
And of course there is the undefinable things like shedding my Sydney mindset and pace of living. Not to mention the challenge of managing complex emotions such as coping with homesickness and letting go of (or at least loosening) my self-identity as a Sydneysider and growing a new Melbourne identity.
So how do I feel?
Well honestly, the emotions are conflicting.
On the one hand I feel this enormous sense of growth. The meeting and managing all these challenges I found within myself resources of strength and creativity I didn’t know I had. I found more mental toughness, assertiveness and resilience and can more easily ride through those things life inevitably throws at you.
And so I’ve been able to rewrite my own story about myself and update more realistically my self-belief about my own ability to manage the world and life. It’s not that I feel different – more that I’ve found a stronger and more authentic version of me. It’s kind of same-but-different if you know what I mean.
And I do feel proud of that – proud in a way of wanting to acknowledge and celebrate achievements – rather than hubris.
On the other hand, slightly more prosaically, I feel enormously tired. Every step of the way of making the achievements above has been tiring. Tiring – physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s definitely time for a well-earned rest and downtime before embarking on year 2 in Melbourne.
As part of my downtime strategy, we recently we spent around 10 days visiting Sydney. It was wonderful.
Wonderful to see family and friends – people I had history with, people who knew me from long ago. I enjoyed that – history gives a certain depth to relationships that can’t be replicated and is only built up through time and shared experience. And this will build up in time with my new friends in Melbourne – but I did enjoy a dose of history in Sydney.
It was wonderful also to be in the physical space of Sydney – I enjoyed the feeling of instantly knowing where I was in place and I enjoyed the sheer beauty of Sydney – the harbour, the beach.
This connection with people and connection with place was very grounding and centring. I could feel the pull of my Sydney identity wanting to envelop me. I could feel just how easily I could slip back into the me of a year ago and resume my Sydney life. Just like that.
Only it ended up feeling unsettling. Because I was aware of the different (or the same-but-different) parts of me that had flowered and flourished in the past year. And I felt the pull of that newer and stronger part of me emerge to fight the temptation to return to the comfort of the old and pull on my Sydney hat.
It wasn’t so much a struggle between Sydney and Melbourne – as a symbolic struggle between the comfort and safety of the past vs the growth and challenge of the future.
And in the end I chose growth despite the pain such a choice involves.
Heading back to Melbourne means not living close to family, it means letting go of the groundedness of connection and place. It means continuing a journey into the unknown with all the discomfort and tension that involves.
But it also means I’m choosing the place that, for now, will give me the best place to grow, develop and flourish. On a personal level, on a family level, on a friendship level, on a professional level, and on a spiritual level.
So, for better or for worse, I’ve chosen to embrace the growth I hope I’ll find in Melbourne.
I’ve taken the doubt and fear of a year ago and turned it into a sense of hope and wonder, which is a wonderfully empowering way to begin our second year in Melbourne.
I can’t wait to see how it turns out. I will keep you posted.